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Opinions & Interviews

20 Mar 2018

Samarasinha: UN disability convention is changing society's view on this category of citizens

Samarasinha: UN disability convention is changing society's view on this category of citizens

MINSK, 20 March (BelTA) - The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is changing society's view on these people, UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative in Belarus Sanaka Samarasinha told the media in Minsk on 20 March.

“I have been in Belarus for more than five years already. During the first two years and a half I worked to get the convention signed and ratified. Then the focus shifted to raising the awareness of disability, fighting the stereotypes, social and economic barriers that get in the way of these people and prevent them to lead a decent life and realize their potential. The convention is changing the opinion of people on disability. Through the convention we try to show that people with disabilities have equal rights with us,” Sanaka Samarasinha said.

The information strategy on the full inclusion of people with disabilities was developed in Belarus within the framework of the national plan of action to implement the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. A journalism contest for the excellence in reporting on disability will be held in Belarus from 20 March to 15 November. “We would like the contest to provoke more conversations about people with disabilities not only in Minsk but throughout the country. Therefore, we have given a few months to the journalists who will take part in the contest so that they could really get deep into the topic, embrace and understand people's stories,” Sanaka Samarasinha noted.

He believes that this contest will also help journalists to cover the inclusion of people with disabilities in a more profound way. “First and foremost, the target audience of the contest are the journalists themselves. They often present people with disabilities either as victims who need sympathy or as superheroes who we should admire. While people with disabilities want to be seen as ordinary people. I think that thanks to this contest the journalists will learn how to cover the topic more accurately and deeper," he said.

According to the UN resident coordinator, the jury will include representatives of civil society, members of various organizations and people with disabilities. They will select the best entries in three categories: Best Journalistic Story, Best Photo Story, Best Video Story. The prize in each category will correspond to the professional activities of journalists. “But I think that the most important thing is not a material prize but the platform that will help journalists take their works to the international level: this is a very good opportunity to show their works and tell about the country,” Sanaka Samarasinha said.

 

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